weCAN Digest September 2018

Media monitoring of the latest news about the media and advertising markets of Central and Eastern Europe


As Elections Near, Bosnia’s Fractured Media May Do More Harm Than Good
Last week, Bosnian journalist Vladimir Kovačević was attacked and beaten with metal bars as he returned home from reporting on a demonstration that called for government accountability in Banja Luka, capital of the country’s ethnic Serb portion, Republika Srpska (RS). The assailants sped away in a car, and Kovačević was hospitalized. The assault, which sparked protests among journalists in Bosnia, was a sign of how precarious conditions are for the press in RS, and how heated Bosnia’s preelection atmosphere has become.
September 4

#BalticBrief: Russia Swindling Swine Conspiracy, Again
Kremlin-funded media outlets in Russia and the Baltic states have recycled an old conspiracy theory, which was previously distributed in Georgia and Ukraine and accuses the United States military of testing biological weapons on its allies.
September 5

Trust in Media on the Rise in Ukraine
Ukrainians trust their media more in 2018 than they did in 2017, reversing a generally downward trend in trust seen in polling since 2015, according to the annual Internews Media Consumption Survey.
September 5

A watchdog group pretended to be Russian and bought 'divisive' Google ads — now, Google is blasting the group for its ties to Oracle
A watchdog group posed as a group of infamous Russian internet trolls to find out how effectively Google was at combatting foreign agents from buying "politically divisive ads." The group bought the ads using rubles and a Russian-based IP address and used similar language and images as were allegedly used by Russian operatives to influence the 2016 US presidential elections. According to the watchdog group, Google did nothing to stop them. Google, for its part, is blasting the watchdog group for its ties to Oracle, a major rival to the company.
September 5

Russian Diplomats Take to Social Media to Spread Disinformation About Skripal Poisoners
When Prime Minister Theresa May claimed the attempted killings were almost certainly signed off “at a senior level” of the Russian state, diplomats began engaging in new attempts on social media to ridicule, discredit and sow doubt about Russia’s involvement in the attack.
September 6

Media: Romania’s watchdog looking to change some audiovisual regulations
One of the proposed changes is that any report related to medical issues should include the opinion of a specialist, local Paginademedia.ro reported. Another article provides that only the religious cults recognized by the state can be promoted on TV or radio. News pieces and debates on themes of interest concerning ethnic, religious and sexual minorities should also include a point of view from their side.
September 7

Domino's viral Russian promotion which promised customers free pizza in exchange for a logo tattoo called off early
The promotion started on Friday and was supposed to last two months – but the company had to end it in just five days after too many people took it up on the offer, the Times reported.
September 7

United Media acquires Pink TV channels in Bosnia, Montenegro
Media platform United Media, part of multi-play telecommunications and media services provider United Group, has acquired two TV channels in Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, a spokesperson for group told SeeNews on Friday.
September 7

Estonia’s First Cyber Ambassador Seeks to Improve Global Cyber Defense
Estonia’s first dedicated cyber ambassador took office on Monday, following several nations that are considering how diplomats can shape cybersecurity policy.
September 7

Russia: Google removes Putin critic's ads from YouTube
Google has taken down YouTube ads by Alexei Navalny, a critic of President Vladimir Putin, ahead of elections for regional governors in Russia. The videos showed Mr Navalny calling for Russians to take part in protests on 9 September against raising the retirement age. One of Mr Navalny's aides said the removal of the ads amounted to "political censorship". Google said it required all advertisers to act in accordance with local laws.
September 10

PwC: Romania’s media & entertainment industry to grow by 7.4 pct per year by 2022
According to the PwC ‘Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2018-2022’ over the next five years, the digital segments will be the most dynamic components of the Romanian media and entertainment market and the whole media and entertainement market will register an annual growth rate of 7.4 percent.
September 11

Alibaba goes big on Russia with joint venture focused on gaming, shopping and more
Mail.ru, the Russia firm that offers a range of internet services including social media, email and food delivery to 100 million registered users, has teamed up with Alibaba to launch AliExpress Russia, a JV that they hope will function as a “one-stop destination” for communication, social media, shopping and games. Mail.ru backer MegaFon, a telecom firm, and the country’s sovereign wealth fund RDIF (Russian Direct Investment Fund) have also invested undisclosed amounts into the newly-formed organization.
September 11

After many opsec fails, Russia seeks to ban soldier social media spoilers
Proposed legislation now being considered by Russia's Duma would attempt to bring to an end a particular practice among members of Russia's armed forces that has become something of a diplomatic and tactical thorn in the military's side—the posting of photos and other information on social media that gives away the operations and positions of their units.
September 12

New Digi Sport channels launch in Slovakia
Available for no additional charge to customers of Magio Go and Digi Go, Digi Sport 6-10 will officially make their debuts on September 15. Commenting on the development, Digi Slovakia CEO Marcel Satanek said: “Digi Sport’s direct broadcasting offer has increased rapidly from this season, and especially during weekends, it is the match times of each match that interfere with each other.
September 13

How Russia infiltrates the media landscape of the Black Sea region
The Black Sea region has been subject to increasing pressure and uncertainty following Russia’s occupation of parts of Georgia in 2008, the annexation of Crimea and destabilization of eastern Ukraine in 2014, and the continuing military stand-off to NATO in the Black Sea and beyond after the intervention in Syria in 2015. These developments have demonstrated Moscow’s determination to revise the post-Cold War order by applying pressure through hard- and soft-power instruments on both members and associate partners of the EU and NATO in order to undermine Euro-Atlantic cohesion and unity. In this, media propaganda and disinformation has become the Kremlin’s weapon of choice.
September 14

Social media in Ukraine hit harder by propaganda than elsewhere - Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Propagandists have a much stronger influence on social networks in Ukraine than in other countries, according to Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the founder of Rasmussen Global, secretary general of NATO (2009-2014) and prime minister of Denmark (2001-2009). Rasmussen was speaking at the 15th Yalta European Strategy (YES) Annual Meeting organized by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation.
September 14

Presidential campaign ‘used bots’, media claim
On Friday, news of alleged use of online bots in President Andrzej Duda’s 2015 election campaign broke out, with opposition quickly jumping on the bandwagon with accusations of social media meddling despite previous reports of fake account use all across Poland’s political spectrum.
September 14

Ipsos gets nod to buy 4 divisions of GfK Custom Research in 26 countries
French research company Ipsos said that it has received the merger clearance for the agreement with German peer GfK to acquire four global divisions of its custom research business in 26 countries.
September 18
#romania #czechia #hungary #poland #russia #ukraine

Slovenia's competition agency orders United Group to dispose of Sport Klub channels
Slovenia's competitions agency (AVK) said that the acquisition of 13 Sport Klub channels by private multi-play telecoms and media provider United Group from S. C. IKO Poljska is incompatible with competition rules.
September 19

Analysis: Hungary launches media campaign to rebut EU criticism
Hungary’s populist right-wing government is launching a wide-ranging media campaign to discredit the Sargentini report which last week won backing in the European Parliament to trigger action over violations of EU core values.
September 19

President of the Croatia Journalists’ Association threatened with dismissal
On 12 September, Hrvoje Zovko decided to resign as deputy editor-in-chief of public TV channel HTV4. Hrvoje Zovko has been a journalist and an editor for public TV HRT for 20 years. Zovko explained in a statement the reasons for his move, citing pressure, censorship and unprofessional choices of topics.
September 21

The Peevski Bulgarian Media Act to be Adopted
The media law "Peevski", which provoked disputes, is about to be passed with the votes of GERB and MRF, Mediapool.bg reported. The draft law provides for the so-called "media service providers" - radio, television, newspapers, online media, to declare each year until 30 June their actual owner in a special register, "any funding received in the previous calendar year, its size and justification, including details of the person who provided the funding ".
September 21

What Do We Know About Disinformation Websites in the Czech Republic and Slovakia?
In August 2018, the konspiratori.sk database of consisted of 118 websites identified as spreading dubious content. 71 are Czech, 41 Slovak and 6 foreign outlets.
September 24
#czechia #slovakia

Gloom in the newsroom as Hungary's independent media recedes
The new owners of the largest independent news outlet in Hungary say they will not meddle in its editorial policies. Reporters at Index.hu are far from sure, and recent history shows why.
September 24

Lithuanian president proposes tougher penalties for misleading advertising
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite has proposed stepping up measures aimed at protecting consumers from misleading advertising and ensuring fair competition. The president proposed linking the size of fines with a company's turnover and issue fines of up to 3 percent of a company's annual revenue but not more than 100,000 euros.
September 25

RIA: Cyber attacks on media may significantly undermine Estonia's information field
The cyber attacks on the media outlets of Ekspress Grupp which started in August demonstrate that with activity like this forwarding of information in Estonia can be affected to a significant degree, the Estonian Information System Authority (RIA) finds. Sept 26
September 26

"Fake news" is fine with Facebook in Latvia
Despite well-publicized public vows to crack down on the use of its social network for the dissemination of outright lies - so-called "fake news" - Facebook is in reality blase about the phenomenon in Latvia, reports the Baltic Center for Investigative Journalism, Re:Baltica.
September 26

BC Partners to acquire SEE-active media, communications co United Group
UK-based BC Partners said on Thursday it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire majority ownership of United Group, a leading media and communication services provider across Southeast Europe, from US-based investment group KKR.
September 27

Suspects Are Arrested in Killing of Slovak Journalist and His Fiancée
The police in Slovakia arrested eight people on Thursday suspected of being connected to the killing of a young investigative journalist and his fiancée seven months ago, a grisly crime that shocked the Central European nation and spurred large-scale demonstrations that ultimately forced the prime minister to resign.
September 27

Lithuania hits back at Russian disinformation
The scale of Russian disinformation has hit new heights. Within the space of three months, bots created half of all "Russian-language news about NATO in the Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) and Poland," according to Rolf Fredheim, a data scientist at NATO's StratCom Center of Excellence.
September 28

Ukraine's public broadcaster struggling for state support
Ukraine's public broadcaster is being modernized with Western help. But with just half a year until the country's presidential election, the outlet is not finding much political backing domestically.
September 28